Interesting Facts About Diamonds: Curious Gemstone History Revealed!

Aryan Khanna
Feb 25, 2023 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Beautiful diamond stone in tongs

Many think that a diamond is a stone, whereas, in reality, it is just carbon atoms arranged in a crystal like structure in solid form.

Interestingly, diamonds are not only used in necklaces or earrings but are are also used in industrial activities such as cutting tools as they are the hardest natural substance on earth. At the same time, diamonds are one of the best conductors of heat, almost five times higher than the best heat conducting metal, copper.

Diamonds that we see in ornaments and as jewels are all formed naturally deep in the earth's mantle under extreme heat and pressure.

These diamonds naturally come to the earth's surface in rough form, usually in volcanic eruptions. Although lately, the main way of obtaining diamonds is via mining with the highest number of diamond mines discovered in South Africa, Russia, and Canada.

Several years ago, during the primitive days of human civilization, people discovered diamonds on the banks of rivers.

Diamonds are not only sophisticated little pieces of treasure but also have great durability. The phenomenon that only a diamond can scratch the surface of another diamond is one of the most interesting diamond facts people often come across.

It is also the rarity of diamonds that makes them so precious and diamonds are quite possibly as old as our planet Earth.

These carbon atoms take billions of years to be converted into diamonds and then, ultimately only a few diamonds come to the earth's surface from where they can be then mined.

Talking about rarity, the rarest gem on earth is Painite as it has only been found twice since its discovery in 1951. Diamonds can't age by any method as they are already billions of years old.

In astrological terms, a diamond is considered to be the birthstone of people born in the month of April signifying that if a person born in April wears this stone, they are supposed to have better inner strength and relationships.

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Why is a diamond so precious?

The reason behind diamonds being so precious is simple economics and geography. We all know that when the demand is high and the supply is low, the prices rise.

The same phenomenon takes place in case of diamonds. Diamonds take billions of years to form as the journey to the world's surface isn't exactly a cake walk.

Usually only 50% of diamonds which are formed in the earth's mantle make this journey. On top of that, every small piece of diamond which is mined isn't always good enough to be sold.

Diamonds were first discovered in southern India. India then was the leading producer of diamonds and they were only used by kings or other very prestigious people in society.

The possession of diamond reflected power and strength.

Eventually, diamond mines were discovered in other parts of the world such as Brazil, Russia, Venezuela, and currently South Africa is the world leader in diamond production. Additionally, as so few of these precious stones are mined in such small sizes, they lose a lot of weight in the process because they undergo polishing and cleaning.

Lately, diamonds are also being used in rings as a token of love, and the added sentimental value to this stone makes it so much more precious. Industry leaders, like DeBeers, are taking full advantage of this and often charge higher prices for decorative items.

The marketing policy and functioning of the DeBeers group plays a large role in regulating the price of diamonds in the world.

The Kimberley mine in South Africa has enough diamonds to flood the diamond market and bring down the prices but DeBeers owns this mine and exercises tight control. They supply only the required amount per year and prevent the prices from falling all of a sudden.

Colored diamonds are rarer than colorless ones and might become exhausted in some years.

There is nothing to worry about the presence of colorless ones at the moment. There are stones such as rubies and sapphires which are rarer than diamonds but it is the subtle look of diamonds that make them so attractive and costly.

At the same time, the quality of the diamond also regulates its price.

The four Cs of a diamond dictate its quality, and the four Cs are carat, color, clarity, and cut. If looking for diamond alternatives, quartz is the best one as a polished quartz can at times look better than a mediocre diamond and is certainly cheaper.

How old is a diamond?

Well, the age of diamonds is almost equivalent to the age of this planet.

Diamonds are naturally formed by carbon atoms deep under the surface of the earth at around 124-155 mi (200-250 km) from the surface of the earth. These carbon atoms have been under great heat and pressure for billions of years and then come up to the world's surface via volcanic eruptions.

Throughout the history of natural diamonds, this has been the process of production, but lately, humans have discovered diamond mines in areas all over the world and no longer need to collect diamonds from the banks of rivers.

If we talk about a number to give you an idea about how old diamonds are usually, well, a lot of diamonds are 3.2 billion years old and each one of them has a minimum age of 990 million or 990,000,000. That surely is a lot of zeros!

Over the years, the largest diamond ever found was in South Africa in 1905.

Its name is the Cullinan diamond and it weighed a whooping 3,106.75 carat which is 21.9 oz (621.35 g). The diamond was then cut into many small pieces and at present, many of those current pieces are part of the British Royal family's rare jewels.

What can break diamonds?

A diamond is one of the hardest substances found on earth but there are rare occasions when even a diamond can break, concluding that diamonds can't last forever. This is a diamond fact that seems far fetched but diamonds do break under certain circumstances.

In technical terms, diamonds are hard but not strong, steel on the other hand is strong. It all comes down to the carbon structure of the diamond.

Diamonds are rigid in nature and can shatter if a large amount of force is exerted at a very particular spot.

This can be done even with a hammer. However, in the case of steel, if we hammer a piece of steel, it would absorb the blow and not shatter like a diamond owing to its structure.

Every piece of rough diamond has a weak point or as it is also known, a cleave line. A blow of immense force at precisely the cleave line can very well break the diamond and shatter it into a number of pieces.

This is how rough diamonds are broken up into smaller pieces to work on.

Although it is easier to break or cut rough diamonds than finished polished ones, it is not impossible for polished ones to break. There have been numerous instances where a small part of a diamond ring has gone missing due to a cut.

This is possible because if the piece of diamond is struck just at the correct angle, it can easily be split into two parts.

Similar to a diamond, a gemstone too can break, but it is actually easier for gemstones to break than a diamond. It is a myth that diamonds are bulletproof as diamonds can easily be shattered if struck by a bullet.

What is the rarest color of diamonds?

People often think that a diamond is only colorless and all the other colored stones are perhaps other valuable gemstones, but in reality, there are naturally colored diamonds available on earth. These diamonds are believed to be especially important to the people born in April as they are their birthstone.

All across the world, people often choose to use a colored diamond in a wedding ring as they are rarer than colorless diamonds.

Some of the rarest colored diamonds available include red diamond, blue diamond, yellow diamond, and pink diamond. Among all these, the red diamond is considered to be the rarest and there exists only 20-30 of this kind in the entire world.

So if you have a red diamond on your ring, now you know how rare it is. These colored diamonds are naturally available and there are more than 30 shades of them which can be mined.

However with machine effort, the colors can be mixed and over 200 kinds of colored diamonds can be made, and the deeper the color, the higher the price. For instance, a 0.71 carat red diamond is priced around $695,800, showing its rarity.

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Aryan Khanna picture

Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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